In Conversation with Alexis Steadman, RELX

 

Please describe your role and responsibilities. How many years have you been in the company?

I joined RELX in 2019 to lead RELX Cares.  RELX Cares is our global community programme supporting employee volunteering and giving that makes a positive impact.

 

What was your background previously and where did your interest in social impact begin?

I started my career in the charity sector at The Prince’s Trust. My interest in social impact began when I was appointed as project manager for a partnership between the Prince’s Trust and Marks & Spencer.  This inspired me to do a Masters in corporate responsibility (CR), and I later went on to run that programme from the M&S side when I joined their CR team a few years later, before moving to join the team at the parent company of TK Maxx. Finally, after nearly 14 years in retail, I took the position at RELX and am really enjoying the challenge of a new sector.

 

How has your social impact programme evolved at your company? What role did B4SI play in its evolution and development?

The core focus of RELX Cares is education for disadvantaged young people that advances one or more of our unique contributions as a business. An example of one of our unique contributions is the promotion of the Rule of Law and access to justice, which links to the legal side of our business.   Employees have up to two days’ paid leave per year to volunteer and the B4SI framework has been central to the development of this programme helping us to measure and benchmark our performance.

 

What are the challenges you encounter in driving your social impact agenda and how do you stay inspired?

RELX operates in four market segments, in around 40 countries employing over 33,000 people. Being in a group role for such a big company means that we are always working hard to support different areas of the business contribute to our overall goals. I am constantly challenged to make sure our Cares programme is relevant and accessible to all our colleagues who are spread across the globe, from across the United States to New Zealand.   I am regularly inspired by the drive and passion of our network of over 230 RELX Cares Champions who make such a positive contribution to their communities.

 

Please give an example of how the B4SI Framework (or its tools and additional services) has helped you in your role and your company. 

It is imperative that we have a standardised approach to measuring our community contributions and impact.  The B4SI framework ensures that we are reporting our contributions correctly and more importantly helps our RELX Cares Champions to have a better understanding of how to differentiate between one-off charitable activities and long-term community investment, helping strengthen our impact.

 

Please tell us about how you have supported the community during Covid-19.

When the pandemic hit last year, employees were eager to support their communities and we allowed employees to use their volunteer hours in creative ways, relaxing the requirement for time to be used only for registered charities. Employees sewed masks for healthcare workers, made donations to food banks and supported neighbours in need.  We also made changes to our grant making programme and forwent the usual application process to make unrestricted funds available to help our charity partners navigate through the pandemic.

 

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

In my years as a CR professional, I have seen the emphasis shift away from how companies are supporting their local communities towards how they are making an impact on global sustainability issues and more recently, back again. I have learned that the two areas are equally important, and an approach which leaves out either is not robust one for any business.

 

What is your motto in life?

My motto in life is that if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger!

 

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